Maybe some of you have already seen this little nugget of awesomeness—it’s been going around for about a month — but it just came across my desk today. Remember the first time you thought how awesome it would be to see queer people in some really mundane commercial context, like an ad for toothpaste or something? Or was that just me?
Did you think about how much more normalizing that would be than a hundred cheesy Lifetimes specials with titles like “The Truth About Jane?” Well you can stop wondering; the mainstream commercial featuring gay teen is here. And it’s from McDonald’s. Yep, McDonald’s want you to “come as you are,” and they are more than happy to help you bond with your dad over burgers and school photos, even if he has no idea that you’re boinking the quarterback at your all-boys’ prep school. The burgers might even help soften him up for your coming out (‘cause, obviously, you’re still basically a wholesome and normal teen if you like McDonald’s).
As a social theory geek with an MA in Media Studies, this is off the charts on my geek-o-meter of something radically transformative that I’d never expect to actually see happen. Advertising may be shallow and vapid on the whole, and we may know consciously that we don’t abide by the tidy values they represent; but it’s naïve to imagine that they don’t affect us. If you live in the world, even if you don’t have TV, it’s gonna get its hooks into you. Commercials, even more than the actual TV shows that carry them, lets us know who we are and what world we’re part of; and if we don’t see any reflections of ourselves there, we become psychic outsiders (or “bad subjects,” as Louis Althusser would say — go read Ideology & the Ideological State Apparatus if this intrigues you). Basically, advertising is the mythology of our culture. Jean Kilbourne and the Media Education Foundation explain:
watch video here http://www.mediaed.org/
What are people’s thoughts on this? I know it’s still McDonalds, and, well, they’re a big evil corporation making us all fat and diseased and submissive to the dominant hegemony, but still: they made a pretty awesome, pretty damn pro-gay-youth commercial. In France. What do you think would happen if this spot played on American airwaves?